"Til Death Do Us Part?" No!

The octogenarian televangelist, author and businessman, Pat Robertson, is no stranger to many people for his outlandish statements. And as he has grown older, these statements also seem to have grown boldly outrageous that you are left shaking your head in utter disbelief that such comments should be coming from a man who is supposed to be an evangelical Christian, and one with global influence through his television network. 
Pat Robertson
Take for example, his August 22, 2005 broadcast of the 700 Club, where he brazenly called for the assassination of the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez: 
You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger… We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with. 
Well, if that made you jump out of your seat then, Pat’s recent statement will gnaw at your Christian sensibilities. On the 13th September edition of the 700 Club, Pat Robertson told his viewers that divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer’s is justifiable because the disease is “a kind of death.” There is a portion during the programme where Robertson takes questions from viewers. A viewer asked him what advice he could give to a friend who began seeing another woman after his wife started suffering from the incurable neurological disorder. This was Robertson’s response: 
I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her.” The chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, which airs the 700 Club, said he wouldn't “put a guilt trip” on anyone who divorces a spouse who suffers from the illness. He then added, “Get some ethicist besides me to give you the answer.  
This response flies in the face of God’s divine intention for the permanency of the marriage relationship. Reformed Christians have long realized that the general thrust of the teaching of the Bible is against divorce. God himself made it abundantly clear from the beginning that marriage was designed to be an inviolable covenant bond between one man and one woman for life. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24).

The fall of man has, of course, brought about sin’s corruption in man’s entire nature. And marriage, as designed by God, has not been spared from the effects of the fall. Although there are situations in which divorce is permissible, it is also clear that it is never an unmitigated good. God hates divorce. (Malachi 2:16). Robertson’s thinking is a reflection of the so-called “no fault” divorce legislation that swept across the United States of America in the 1970s. Who can deny that these laws have wrecked havoc on the family (and especially to children)? The understanding of the marriage institution as an enduring covenant has been replaced with the concept of marriage as a contract of unknown duration, which can be terminated any moment. The radical individualism that has taken root in many western societies has not spared evangelical Christians and people are now driven by their desire for personal expression and freedom and marital vows are broken as soon as they are said.

What Pat Robertson said was not only cruel, but a denial of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Scripture tells us that marriage is a sign of something far more deeper – a mystery. The apostle Paul talks of the mystery of Christ and his church (Eph. 5). The husband is to love his wife “as Christ loved the church” (Eph. 5:25). This love is a self-sacrificial crucifixion of self. The husband pictures Christ when he loves his wife by giving himself up for her. To abandon a wife because she has Alzheimer is an unchristian decision and an open manifestation of a selfish spirit.

We own a Christian DVD movie, “A Vow to Cherish” which we have watched many times. It is a deeply moving story of a husband and wife who are faced with a devastating medical diagnosis – the wife had Alzheimer. 

As his wife slips into the grips of this incurable illness, the husband finds himself challenged beyond anything he could have imagined when he vowed his lifelong commitment and love so many years before. The true meaning of “til death do us part” is vividly portrayed in this movie. I could not hold back my tears the first time I saw the movie. If you are married and haven’t seen the movie, I encourage you to do so. It shows the true spirit of what being committed to one another and to God is all about, not walking out on your terminally sick spouse, as Pat Robertson wrongly advises.

Those who have read the biography of B.B. Warfield, would remember that he tenderly and lovingly took care of his wife who had a debilitating illness, and was almost an invalid. In his Ph.D dissertation, “The Lion of Princeton,” Dr. Kim Riddlebarger notes that during her long illness, Dr. Warfield almost never ventured away from her side for more than two hours at a time. He demonstrated remarkable compassion and care toward his wife, Annie Kinkead Warfield that every Christian husband must emulate. [see “One Productive Life” – A Short Biography of B. B. Warfield

We can't tell what else will come from the mouth or pen of Pat Robertson, but on the issue of marriage and divorce, he is characteristically off the mark. "Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man put asunder." 


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